DK Design operates like most other manufacturers. Try another question.
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I believe DK Designs only uses the existing chassis.
(I own a Reference MK III )
I believe just about every manufacturer out there out-sources their metal work.
I am pretty sure Krell,Cary,Levinson,etc do not build their own chassis.
The Chassis most likely accounts for the largest % cost of the unit.
Have you ever tried to call up and order a new faceplate or top-cover from a manufacturer.
They can cost hundreds.near a thousand in some cases.
If you can get a chassis already built and put your dollars and cents into the internal parts and design,that sounds like a pretty smart idea to me.
The DK internals are/were designed and engineered here in the US.
The new DK Signature Version now has an all new pre-amp section designed by Legendary designer/modifier John Tucker.(Exemplar)
They use something called an "active load circuit"
I am not a designer,but,I believe this circuit allows the tubes to perform at 100% of their potential.
I have also heard that DK has or is working on "Statement"
unit that is intended to to best any amp in the world
regardless of price.
A hefty order,however,based on what the Reference does and what the Signature sounds like(I have a friend who owns one)
This may just be an obtainable feat for an intelligent design team that knows where to spend the money.
I've seen many a response here on Audiogon over the past 6 or 7 years that I have been here. Solid state is better than tube, OTL better than transformers, SET better than high power, electrostatics better than dynamic speakers, vinyl better than CD, NOS better than new production, cable can't possibly make a difference, you can't meausure it but I sure as heck can hear it, and on and on and on, as well as the converse to every one of those.
A lot of answers, a lot of opinions. Some have been polite, and some have been inflammatory. Some I have felt compelled to respond to, and others that I have not.
The one response I never understand is when someone says you have no business asking the question. Audiogon would NOT be Audiogon unless we did ask the questions, and question the answers.
I most certainly do not have the answer, which is what occasioned this thread.
DK Design puts out really splendid looking components. Friends of mine have told me how great these products sound, too. I've even heard one of the DK amps and thought it sounded quite good.
Intrigued by this brand, I searched around the posts in Audio Asylum, where I
came across the hint (or rumor or inuendo) that DK products were rebadges of existing products designed and manufactured in China (Taiwan, to be extact). I have no idea if this is true, but wanted to find out; hence this post.
If this, in fact, is true, it does not detract from the sound or design quality of these products. However, given that DK Design makes no mention of the true (?) provenance of its products on its website, this would cast this company in a somewhat negative light for me.
So: does DK design these products (ie, the electronics) themselves? Or not? What's the answer, boys?
DK never made any secret of the origin of their amplifier. My VS-1 says "Made in China" on the rear of the unit. In fact, their initial campaign was promoting that they have a factory in China where most of the assembly is done and this was the way they could pass on substantial savings to the consumer. So because in China labor is like $1 per hour they can make an amplifier that would cost about $10K in the US to MSRP for only $3K.
So DK has a factory in China that ships the main components chassis with the sub-assembly. Then final modifications are made here in the USA. These modifications are also a very important part of the final design.
You guys should also check out this link:
Looks suspiciously like Gryphon from Denmark doesn't it? The fact is, there are all kinds of products being offered in China, especially with China having so little respect for intellectual property and copyrights. And yes it is true that there is a lot of crap being made in China these days. But in the hands of capable American company and with proper management it is possible to produce top notch products that compete with the best.
Hopefully I can address this question--it will be lengthy, so if you're not inclined to hear it all, just move on.
The original owners of DK Design, in fact 'copied' many of the features and designs of an existing product which was quite good. (Think Ford and Mercury in their days of just chrome and sound deadening material differences).
After purchasing DK Design in July of last year, I did a product evaluation, and happily discovered that our units employ Solen Transistors, the same brand used in many well received and respected units such as Gryphon, one of my most respected competitors. (These evals of the existing products even led to the necessity of our having to in fact apply for separate CE Compliance), though given that politically charged entity who knows what the true implications beyond collecting their charges are).
After my evaluation, I decided to further 'distance' our product from its original manufacturer as much as possible by making as many qualitative changes, parts and circuit wise, as was possible, while still being able to hang on to a profit worthy of existence.
The first step was to redesign the Signature amplifier, which to my chagrin, was identical, no make that IDENTICAL, to the original Ref MK III, other than the anodizing color difference. People putting their good money on the line were, in my opinion, being duped, assuming as they should, that the products were different.
I contracted with the (overused but true)Brilliant John Tucker of Exemplar, to make the biggest bang for the buck changes possible in the amplifier, while remaining in the 'black' so to speak.
In the eval, we found many $.25 parts in the pre stage of our integrated. NOW, DON'T be alarmed, you would be shocked at how many of your so called 'HOLY GRAIL' products that employ such items on a wholesale basis--after all this is a business first, and everyone wants to make a profit for their work. So I am not casting aspersions, this is necessary for financial success in some instances. The key to doing this the right way is 'where can I, and how can I best spend the money, so that I don't loose my shirt, but give a great product?'
We started by upgrading passive components in the pre amp section, resistors and capacitors in the pre amp section.
We are now using metal film resistors and Auricaps instead of carbon film resistors and low grade, yet typical for this utililization of caps.
We further did an analysis of the circuit and realized that significant sonic improvements could be made by improving the preamp section through the use of Tube Load Circuitry, which was initially developed by the late John Camille and John Tucker of Exemplar.
This circuit has the effect of allowing the tubes to operate at their theoretic capacity as opposed to, roughly 40% of their capacity.
What does this mean to the listener, technically, and or sonically?
By having the tube work into (see) a significantly higher ac impedance, the sonic result is increased dynamics, speed, and resolution. Instead of replicating the usual, more is better, i.e. using more tubes, we gain advantage through utilization of this technological leap.
We upgraded rectifiers in the power supply for the pre amp stage, (offering similar improvements as mentioned before).
We replace typical internal wiring, selectively with Siltech wiring, from the board to the binding posts, a seemingly small thing to do, but listening tests validate the importance of performing this time consuming task.
Now, after having stated all of the technical changes we have made, what are the sonic implications?
As mentioned, low level resolution, which gives us many of the clues as to sound staging--the juxtaposition of performers recorded in 'real space'--in a word, location and distance, adding dramatically to the sense of realism for the listener.
The sonic sense of the amp, is one of a very organic presentation, given the elimination of some of the omnipresent 'hash' resultant from inexpensive parts such as were used.
Signature amplifiers are put on a work bench, checked cosmetically, full bench tested for all functions, and must meet a rigorous quality control, just to pass muster.
This means that each SIGNATURE is 100% quality controlled.
We can do no more than this to insure that each customer is satisfied.
All of these changes/upgrades/tests are performed in our own facility in the USA.
We do this because the circuit is proprietary, with patent pending.
The Reference Mark III is now, while not being upgraded to this point, (after all it costs about half the price), are being QC'd 100%, with certificates issued for each unit, as they pass through our labs.
We work hard to bring the best value for the dollar product to our customers, which is why, sometimes people are so complimentary on the Audiogon sites. We firmly believe that we offer the best value in our product category available today.
Look for reviews in Stereophile and Bound for Sound in the near future.
Thanks for allowing me to answer these very valid questions.
Larry R. Staples
Thanks for that honest and enlightening response. It's good to know that DK is now in good, professional hands. And the work you're doing with the DK products sounds promising and exiting.
What prompted this post was the suspicion, which I first encountered on Audio Asylum, that something wasn't quite right in DK land. This was a company that was adopting a very high profile, and making very bold pronouncements about their products. So they were noticed. I think that was part of the fascination when comments were passed about the "true" nature of this operation.
There is nothing wrong with Chinese components. (Indeed, from a variety of perspectives, there's a great deal right about them.) Nothing wrong with rebadging. But there is something a little shady about a company that isn't exactly forthcoming about these matters.
Your comments do confirm that there were "issues" with the previous regime. I think we're all glad that a new regime (ie, you) is now in charge. I wish you great success.
I don't have plans to, and frankly don't have dates for it.
We will be at the Munich Show with our newly appointed Master European Distributor, John Jeffries, showing all of our products, including two additional new speakers, and a new amplifier.
May I indulge in a commercial please?
We reconfigured the crossovers on the LSA1's using the 'best' parts we could access, and did the same with the LSA2's, making for new versions of each, known as SIGNATURE Editions. The results are very pleasing.
We also, keeping the above post in mind, made an all out assault on the amplifier section as well as the pre section, added another set of Tube Load Circuits, and now have a STATEMENT Amplifier which will make its debut at the German Show in Munich.
This show is May 26th thru....?
Thanks for the question, and opportunity to tell about products.
Larry R. Staples